Pevensey Castle, Sussex

Pevensey Castle has a long and violent history.  It began life as the Roman Fort of the "Saxon Shore" Anderita, constructed like all of them partly to repel the Germanic tribes and partly as a defence against fellow Romans.  Unlike almost all other Roman forts Anderita was a kind of oval shape - not the usual grid pattern so beloved of Romans everywhere.  Once the Romans left the Castle was recorded as having been a refuge for natives against the invading Saxons.  In 491 they were slaughtered here.

Over 1000 years later a second invasion landed at Pevensey Bay.  This was William I, whose first act on British soil was to build a motte Castle within the walls of Anderita.  William then went off to meet King Harold at Battle and the rest - as they say - is history.

Pevensey was built in stone by Robert, Count of Morain (one of William's many half-brothers). In 1088 there was the first of Pevensey's sieges...Robert Curthose held the Castle against William II ('Rufus').  It surrendered when William's cause was victorious.  Not so many years later another garrison was starved out of the Castle by King Stephen.  The only remaining masonry from this time is the stump of the keep.

The Castle played bagatelle between various families over the next few hundred years.  The Earl of Richmond in 1246 built the curtain wall and gatehouse which make up the bulk of the post-Roman stonework we see today.  In 1264 after the Battle of Lewes the Castle was held by Henry III's defeated men.  Simon de Montfort arrived and laid siege, but the Castle held out until de Montfort's defeat almost a year later.

Yet another siege was laid during the Wars of the Roses by which time the Castle was already in decay.  The sea slowly receded until Pevensey was left a mile from the coast and it played no part in further defences until machine gun posts were added during World War II.  By this time people's sense of history meant that the gun posts were disguised as part of the Castle - and it is a good game at Pevensey trying to spot the gun posts from outside, so good is the camouflage!

The Castle is owned by English Heritage and open throughout the year.

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